Census Decision is Good News for Arizona

June 27, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Rep. Greg Stanton today responded to the Supreme Court’s decision to reject the Trump Administration’s request to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census and send the case back to the district court.  Stanton issued the following statement:

“Today’s decision affirms what we have known all along: the Administration’s plan to add a citizenship question was ill-conceived, and officials have lacked candor about their intentions.  That is why, for more than a year now, we have fought this question, and we will continue to fight for a fair Census until the count is complete. 

Adding a citizenship question would result in a serious undercount in Arizona—likely the largest of any state—and cost our taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds.”

The Court concluded that the Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s decision to add this question to the census in the first place was motivated by questionable reasons.  Writing for the Court’s majority, Chief Justice John Roberts referred to the Secretary’s rationale for adding the question as “contrived” and “more of a distraction.”

“Altogether, the evidence tells a story that does not match the Secretary’s explanation for his decision,” the Court reasoned.  

In May 2018, during his last month as mayor, Stanton led Phoenix to join a federal lawsuit to prevent the federal government from including a citizenship question on the 2020 Census questionnaire.  Phoenix became the first Arizona city to join the suit, along with more than a dozen other cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Stanton argued then that the question, which hasn’t been included on the decennial census since 1950, would intimidate Latino residents and result in an undercount that would cost Phoenix millions in federal dollars.

In January, Stanton and about 40 other members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary Ross and then-Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker asking that the Administration “devote resources to preparing for the 2020 Census without the cloud of the citizenship question hanging over the process.”  And just last week, Stanton voted against Rep. Steve King’s amendment that would have allowed the Census Bureau to include the citizenship question.

Arizona cities and towns rely on federal funding formulas that are determined by census data for vital programs such as Medicaid, Community Development Block Grants, Low Income Energy Assistance, Section 8 housing assistance, Head Start/Early Start, Children’s Health Insurance Program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance and many more. Additionally, highway and transit planning and construction could also be negatively impacted by an undercount.

A recent study from Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy shows Arizona’s total population could see an undercount of nearly 5 percent if the citizenship question is added to the census—the largest hit of any state. It would also likely cause the state to miss out on adding a congressional seat and Electoral College vote.

The Washington Post’s state-by-state analysis of the study showed approximately 362,496 Hispanic Arizona residents (accounting for about 5 percent of the state’s total population) would be undercounted in 2020. [Source]